Eustáquio van Lieshout

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Blessed Eustáquio van Lieshout, SS.CC.
Eustáquio van Lieshout.jpg
Born November 3, 1890
Aarle-Rixtel, North Brabant, Netherlands
Died August 30, 1943
Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil
Venerated in Roman Catholic Church
Beatified June 15, 2006, Belo Horizonte, Brazil by Cardinal José Saraiva Martins, C.M.F., for Pope Benedict XVI

The Blessed Eustáquio (Eustachius or Eustache) van Lieshout, SS.CC., (November 3, 1890 – August 30, 1943) was a Dutch missionary in Brazil, and a religious and priest of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary.

Life[edit]

He was born Huub van Lieshout on November 3, 1890 in Aarle-Rixtel in the province of Brabant, the eighth of eleven children. In 1903, he was enrolled in the Latin school in Gemert. After reading the biography of Fr Damien de Veuster, Huub transferred in 1905 to the minor seminary of the Picpus Fathers, becoming a member of the Congregation in 1913, at which time he received the religious name of Eustachius.[1]

Upon completion of his theological studies in 1919, he was ordained a priest in August 1919. His first assignment was as assistant novice master for his order. He was then assigned to the towns of Maassluis and Roelofarendsveen in South Holland, where he provided pastoral care for the many Belgian refugees. In recognition of his work, the King of Belgium knighted him in the Order of Leopold.[1] He then spent two years in Roelofarendsveen as a parochial vicar. In 1924 he was sent to Spain to learn Spanish, in anticipation of an assignment in Uruguay, however he ended up being sent to Brazil, where the language was Portuguese.[2]

Career in Brazil[edit]

Van Lieshout, along with two other Picpus priests and three lay brothers, was sent to Brazil, in response to an appeal for help by a local bishop. He arrived in Rio de Janeiro on 12 of May 1925 and was appointed pastor for the town of Agua Suja in Romaria.[1]

In 1935 he was sent by his religious superiors to Poá. After news spread of van Lieshout's transfer, the population of the town started a bloodless uprising to stop him from leaving. Nevertheless, he left in obedience to his superiors for his new parish, where he worked to oppose the widespread practice of Candomblé. His blessings and cures of the sick through the intersession of St. Joseph made the little village a noted center of pilgrimage.[2]

This, however, brought major problems to the town. Railroads were not able to furnish transportation for the great crowds; the lack of adequate housing meant that sanitary conditions were inadequate to the need. The police were no longer able to maintain order. Merchants sold bad food at high prices and thieves roamed the pilgrimage area preying on innocent victims. Van Lieshout was ordered to leave the parish to prevent these conditions from continuing. Despite this, tremendous crowds followed him everywhere. Brazilian authorities became so alarmed that they ordered him out of towns and villages. No one had anything against him, but they were afraid of the crowds and the commotion that would follow him.

The Cardinal Archbishop of Rio de Janeiro instructed van Lieshout to leave the capital by midnight. Subsequently, a fanatical crowd blocked traffic and invaded church rectories looking for him. He left Poá May 1941.[2]

Somehow, he managed to find a hiding place and passed a year in peace and happiness. His final appointment was as pastor of Belo Horizonte, where he lived the last two years of his life. He was given an assistant who was able to control the crowds. No one was permitted to enter the rectory without a letter of introduction. In this fashion, Van Lieshout was able to devote his complete energy to the work of his parish. After a week of sickness caused by an insect bite, he died on August 30, 1943.

At his death, on his body was found a penitential pointed iron chain, buried so deep in his flesh that it could not be removed without tearing the flesh. Miracles are attributed to him.

Beatification[edit]

Following a papal rescript of December 19, 2005, which declared authentic a miracle attributed to his intercession, van Lieshout was beatified in Belo Horizonte on June 15, 2006, the Feast of Corpus Christi that year, at a service led by the Archbishop of Belo Horizonte, Walmor de Oliveira de Azevedo. It was presided over by Cardinal José Saraiva Martins, C.M.F., Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, acting on behalf of Pope Benedict XVI.

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